Bahai News - DAY TRIPPER: See it all... small
DAY TRIPPER: See it all... small
By Haim Shapiro
The Israel in miniature, or at least part of it, is on display at the
hotel, right next to the well-known Model of Jerusalem in the Second
Temple Period, which has been at the site since 1966.
Hebrew University Professor Michael Avi-Yona built that model in four
years, basing his work on the writings of Josephus, Mishna, and Talmud.
The model was intended in some measure to provide a substitute for a
visit to the Old City, which was then off-limits to Israelis and most
visitors to Israel. Only a year later, following the Six Day War,
Jerusalem was reunited and the entire city became accessible. But the
model, with the temple as its focus of attention, has remained a
favorite site for visitors.
Only last year the hotel built a viewing platform so visitors can now
see the entire model from above, as well as enjoy a panoramic scene of
that part of Jerusalem.
The Israel in miniature models, now called My Land Holyland, are part
of a much larger project, Mini Israel, which had been intended for a
site at Kibbutz Nahshon.
According to Yoni Shapira, one of the entrepreneurs and the creative
and marketing director of Mini Israel, that project was to have opened
last September in time for the millennium.
However, he said, that was before the Israel Lands Administration
upped the value of the site on which Mini Israel was slated to open.
Instead of being worth $800,000, the land was valued at $8 million, he
The case is still being contested, but meanwhile, Hillel Cherny, the
hotel owner, invited Mini Israel to use an area adjacent to the Model of
What the visitor sees is a small taste of Mini Israel. But it is a
tantalizing taste. Instead of stretching out over 58 dunams (14.5 acres)
with 350 models, the display has 70 models on four dunams (one acre).
Many of the planned special effects, such as moving cars, boats,
planes, and people, are missing, as are some of the landscaping and
MINI ISRAEL is intended to be spread out over a schematic map of the
country, but here the models are grouped according to their themes.
There are Jewish, Christian, Moslem, and Bahai holy sites, archeological
sites, and sites connected with the history of modern Israel.
In contrast to the Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period model, built
on a scale of 1:50, the Mini Israel models are all on a scale of 1:25.
Madurodam in Holland used that scale and remains one of the most famous
miniature cities in the world.
Shapira is excited that recentlydeveloped technology has made it
possible for the builders of Mini Israel to reproduce structures more
precisely than ever.
The building material is a synthetic, and it can resemble anything
from plaster and concrete to hand-hewn stone. The metal is laser-cut for
precision and the entire reproduction scaling has been done by computer.
"Just look at those railings," Shapira says as we walk by the model
of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, one of the first Jewish neighborhoods to be
built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Equally impressive are the gold onion domes of the Russian Orthodox
Church of Mary Magdalene on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, and the colored
tile walls of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
"There are models of this building in seven parks around the world,
but I think ours is the best," Shapira says with pride.
Since the exhibit is open until 11 p.m. daily, the lighting comprises
an important part of the display. When you go by the old hamam or
bathhouse in Acre, you can see the light shining through the colored
glass in the roof.
Nighttime visitors also will be able to enjoy the open-air cafe at
The display will remain at the Holyland Hotel for a year, after which
Shapira hopes to move it to the site at Kibbutz Nahshon.
It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is NIS 40 for
adults and NIS 25 for children 18 and under.
©Copyright 2000, The Jerusalem Post
Page last updated/revised 041500
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